Clay Bird Totem :: Part 2 :: Finishing Birds

Clay Bird Totem :: Part 2 :: Finishing Birds

This is Part 2 of the Clay Bird Totem. You can find Part 1 :: Sculpting the Birds HERE.

As I mentioned in Part 1, the hardest part of making these birds is to patiently wait for them to dry complete. Okay, I’m not saying you have to be patient, but do wait until they are completely dried. I had to wait about a week. I started painting one too early and after the paint dried it peeled off. 

When the birds and bead are thoroughly dry, you can use extra fine sandpaper to remove any unwanted markings. Make sure to dust them off completely before you begin painting.

I slipped the birds on paint brushes and was able to paint the entire bird at one time.

Let the paint dry completely.

After the paint is dried you can embellish the birds with additional markings. I used the back of a paintbrush to add dots to two of my birds.

Again, after the paint dries completely, seal the birds with a semi gloss or high gloss finish.

You can buy or make a base for the totem. Tim made ours out of ash and then used a router on the edges. You can make it much simpler and just sand the edges. Then drill a hole in the center to fix your metal rod. It using a 3/16 steel rod drill the hole using a 3/16 drill bit so you have a tight fit. Do not go all the way through the wood but deep enough so the rod is stable.

After you insert the rod in the base, place your birds and spacers on the rod and mark the rod where you want to cut it off. Tim used a hack saw. If you want to paint, stain or finish your base you can. Now, place a little glue in the hole and insert the rod. Simply load up your birds and you are done.

I had a little more rod sticking up than I wanted so I painted a wooden bead that had a large hole and added it to the top. There was no way I was going to ask Tim to cut the rod again!!!

Now find the perfect spot to showcase your Clay Bird Totem and enjoy! If you make one yourself, but sure to share a photo with us on Facebook!









  1. So lovely. 😉 Thank you for sharing- I’d love to make similar birds.

    1. Oh, I hope you do. It was so much fun letting the clay guide me. I was thrilled that each one was so different. Let us know if you do! ~Kimara~

  2. I bet this would make a cute mobile or something like that too. The birds are gorgeous. I love the dots!

    1. Kimara

      And they were so much fun to make! Love the mobile idea. Although I wouldn’t want to use the paper clay outside, if and when I have access to a kiln, I was thinking it would be beautiful to hang some of these from the trees in our yard. We have so many real birds that visit our friends but I wouldn’t mind a few clay ones, too. 🙂 ~Kimara~

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